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How does Stevenson explore duality in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

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Introduction

How does Stevenson explore duality in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? The idea of duality, in this case, of people displaying duality of character, being "two faced", of showing contrasting sides to a person, was of much interest to people in the late 19th century, due to the way it reflected upon their society, and was a key concept of Gothic literature written at the time. In this essay, I shall see how Stevenson explores this, the techniques and methods he uses, and the way in which he shows us how duality is significant in Victorian society. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was one of the first novels to re-introduce the Gothic literary genre, and thus has several elements that are common to other Gothic novels, which I shall explore in this chapter. With Gothicism being a genre of horror fiction, almost all Gothic novels have some kind of monster as the antagonist. Mr Hyde, although generally regarded as human (a point which I will explore further later on), is quite obviously a monster in the original sense, that is, a being of pure evil and sadism. He is described as a repulsive, grotesque person, for example, by Mr Enfield: "There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable ... ...read more.

Middle

in this case necessarily good or bad, exposing their duality, for example with Dr Jekyll, who, although he obviously hates Hyde for his crimes, still continues to crave becoming him for the purposes of expressing his desires. Another technique Stevenson uses is symbolism, mostly in the form of weather, for example, the city streets were filled with smog when Hyde was out, and in chapters 2 and 4, where Utterson and others are trying to find Mr Hyde, there is a thick early-morning fog. This, although common in London at the time, still had associations of secrecy and obscurity, as it was the domain of people like Jack the Ripper, and therefore the perfect setting for the crimes of Mr Hyde. As well as weather, Stevenson used the symbolism of doors and windows also as metaphors for secrecy. For instance, in Jekyll's laboratory, it is always behind the closed cabinet door that he transforms into Hyde, and it is only when this door is broken down that the mystery is solved. Also, when Utterson and Enfield go to speak with Jekyll in Incident at the Window, the window serves as a barrier between Utterson and the truth that Jekyll hides. To understand how the book as a whole expresses duality, it is important to understand how contemporary readers would have viewed and reacted to the book. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows once again the idea of having a private life, kept hidden and separate from your public life, which is what Carew appears to be doing. Finally, there is Dr Jekyll. Throughout the book he is described as a good man, who was respectable, admired by his friends, as someone seen as nearly perfect by Victorian standards. However, beneath the public face we can see that his fascination with Mr Hyde is not purely scientific. Once he has experienced what it is like to be in Hyde's body, he begins to crave it more, this is because, through Hyde, he can do things that are completely unacceptable, even by modern standards. The book suggests that, as well as murder, he practised many sexual perversions, and similar acts. This shows how a man can fall and become a lesser human, as noted before, and that this is achieved by science. At the time, people believed in the idea that humanity could reach a peak level, and then devolve, becoming ape-like once again, Jekyll and Hyde could be seen as a metaphor for this. As you can see, Stevenson uses these characters effectively as well a wide variety of literary techniques and in the style of a Gothic novel to explore duality and how it relates to society at the time. ...read more.

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